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Tokyo tap water too radioactive for children - reports

Water supplies contain more radioactive iodine than is safe for young children to drink – as black smoke emerges from Fukushima.

A greengrocer in Tokyo sells spinach from the Kanagawa prefecture - which has not been affected by radioactivity. Most food from the Fukushima prefecture has been taken off the market.
A greengrocer in Tokyo sells spinach from the Kanagawa prefecture - which has not been affected by radioactivity. Most food from the Fukushima prefecture has been taken off the market.
Image: AP

AUTHORITIES IN TOKYO have warned adults not to allow young children to drink water from the city’s municipal supply, after radiation limits well above the healthy limit were discovered in the metropolitan water system.

A Tokyo Metropolitan Government official confirmed an earlier report, from national broadcaster NHK, that the ongoing safety concerns at the Fukushima I power plant had resulted in an unhealthy level of radioactive iodine in the water supply.

Though the air supply in the capital had not registered a worrying level of radioactivity – with the centre of the capital a full 250km south-west of the stricken nuclear plant – it is understood that one water treatment centre, in particular, has been affected by radiation.

As a result, the Daily Telegraph reports, the level of iodine 131 – a radioactive variant – in one water sample was 210 becquerels per litre; government guidelines suggested that no more than 100 becquerels per litre should be present in water being given to infants.

It was still considered safe for adults to drink the water, however, with the adult tolerance being 300 becquerels per litre.

The warning applies to all 23 wards of Tokyo, as well as to five other towns to the west of the city, the New York Times explains.

The developments came as engineers at the Fukushima I power plant observed black smoke at the crippled power plant, where cooling systems have been offline since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake of March 11 and its resulting tsunami.

Reuters cited a report from NHK saying that black smoke was seen rising from the number 3 reactor – a worrying development, given that all previous smoky discharges had either been a whitish-grey, or instead turned out merely to be condensed steam.

Sky News said that radiation was continuing to leak from the plant, where workers yesterday concluded laying electricity cables to all six reactors in hopes that the cooling systems could be kickstarted back into activity.

Power has been fully restored to reactors 5 and 6, which were both offline at the time of the tsunami, and the UN’s nuclear watchdog said power had been returned to reactor 2 as well.

Cooling systems at reactors 1 and 3, however, were “severely hampered”, the IAEA said.

Fukushima radiation fears: Q&A on food safety >

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Gavan Reilly

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